Student in Teresa Greggo's third-grade class at Polk Elementary School was assigned a state to research for social studies.

Ariana Bass, 9, was assigned the state of Kansas. As she was doing her research last month, a series of tornadoes left a trail of damage through Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Ariana's mother, Amy Walker, heard the news on TV and called Ariana to come watch it with her.

"Mom, I can't believe this," she said when she heard Kansas had been in the path of the devastating storms.

She immediately felt a connection with the very same people she was reading and learning about.

"I felt really bad. I wanted to help them," Ariana said.

She and her mother talked about it and tried to think of ways they could help, maybe sending clothing.

"Then we heard they didn't really want clothing so we thought money would be better," says Ariana.

Ariana wrote a note to her principal, Erica Walters, asking if there was any way the school would be able to help her raise money to give to the people in Kansas.

"I was deeply moved by Ariana's request," said Walters. "I told her she had to fill out a form to formerly request to hold a fundraiser, which we filled out together. We talked about several ideas. We decided that whoever donated to the cause would receive a red bead necklace. Ariana chose red because we picked the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund to donate whatever we raised."

As an added extra incentive, every student and staff member who donated had their name announced on the loudspeaker and then could go to the office to claim their necklace.

Ariana set a goal of $400.

She and her mother made a flyer with all the information on it and it was sent home with all the Polk students.

The response has been wonderful. As of last Friday the $400 goal had been exceeded. The last day to donate is June 14.

"I'm so proud of Ariana. She's such an amazing girl. I thought it was very brave of her to approach her principal with the idea to help others who needed it," says Walker.

Walters is also impressed with Ariana.

"I feel she is took a leadership role to put together this fundraiser. Our high school students came into our school with the HOPE project, which fosters our young elementary students to want to make a difference. I'm proud of Ariana and her mom. They are definitely making a difference," said Walters.

As Ariana placed red beads around another student, it's plain to see that both were pleased with the donation.

"I feel really good about it. I'm helping other people. If this would happen to me, I'd want them to help me," said Ariana.